The Andrews Labor Government is delivering even more to ensure Aboriginal children and families are in touch with their cultural identity and have access to culturally safe support.
At the 11th Aboriginal Children’s Forum in Port Fairy today, Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos announced $2 million to establish a new specialised state-wide Aboriginal kinship finding service.
The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency will work in partnership with the First Nations Legal Research Services – with support from the Koorie Heritage Trust – to help identify the kinship networks of vulnerable Aboriginal children and support their reconnection with extended family.
Ms Mikakos also announced $13.3 million to support the transition of an extra 304 children in kinship care to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs).
A further $3.33 million was provided to ACCOs to help build their capacity to take on these additional cases.
Expressions of interest are now being sought from ACCOs to deliver a pre-authorisation phase of the Australian- first Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care (ACAC), which was funded as part of a $13.7 million initiative in this year’s Budget. This will assist ACCOs to prepare for full authorisation in the future.
ACAC enables the head of an Aboriginal organisation to assume full legal responsibility for an Aboriginal child on a protection order under Section 18 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.
The Labor Government is also expanding maternal and child development supports for Aboriginal families with the extension of its Aboriginal Maternal and Child Health Initiative until June 2019.
A total of $3.65 million in additional funding will enable the service to continue in Darebin, Latrobe, Swan Hill, Campaspe, Geelong, Warrnambool, Wyndham, Whittlesea and Mitchell and to be delivered in new areas. A further $350,000 will fund a targeted scholarship program to attract Aboriginal Victorians into the nursing profession.
These initiatives form part of a record $47.3 million in this year’s Budget to support implementation of Wungurilwil Gapgapduir: Aboriginal Children and Families Agreement – a ground breaking tripartite partnership between the Aboriginal communities, government and community service organisations.
The Labor Government has invested an unprecedented $858.6 million through the Victorian Budget 2018/2019 to continue the transformation of Victoria’s children and family services system through Roadmap for Reform and the move from crisis response to prevention and early intervention.
As noted by Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“We’re proud to have established the Aboriginal Children’s Forum so that we can work together to deliver better outcomes for all Aboriginal kids and families.”
“Through the Forum’s work, Victoria is the first state to introduce Aboriginal legal guardianship and our additional investment will see half of Aboriginal children in care be case managed by ACCOs by the end of the year.”